03.10.2018 The consultative referendum on the “name” agreement with Greece held in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia last Sunday, 30 September, has regrettably failed to reach the required threshold of 50%. Those who did cast their ballot however, that is over a third of registered voters, clearly expressed an overwhelming support (of more than 90%) for the countries’ accession to NATO and the EU, thanks to the adoption of the new name for their country, ‘North Macedonia’.
Macedonia’s Prime-Minister Zoran Zaev, leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), has regretted that the quorum was not achieved, but has announced his intention to try and pursue the required constitutional changes in Parliament, also calling for the support of opposition members of the Parliament.
His determination to proceed on the Euro-Atlantic path, taking advantage of the unique window of opportunity represented by the agreement with Athens, have been welcomed by PES Group member Franco Iacop, regional councilor of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, who has drafted the CoR opinion on the 2018 Enlargement Package, due to be adopted by the CoR plenary session on 5-6 December.
The reasons for the low turnout are already under scrutiny by analysts and experts. Many outstanding politicians of the main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE (part of the EPP family), which have been in power for more than a decade until May last year, clearly invited to boycott the poll and to discourage people to vote.
In particular in peripheral and rural areas, the campaign failed to reach many citizens. As Iacop declared: “Focusing exclusively on the central level has proved to be short-sighted. Only a full involvement of local authorities, which represent the fundamental link with people, would have allowed for a significant mobilisation of citizens.” In his draft opinion, he is calling for local and regional authorities to play a crucial role in involving the whole society in the ongoing reform process and the path towards EU membership.”